Sunday 11/03/2013 by bertoletdown

RECAP: AC3, CK5, AND P30+

If you’re Phish, Halloween is a high-pressure gig. But what about the act of drawing the curtain on a tour like this one? Before we delve into AC3, let’s put it into context.

Before tonight, the tour consisted of 11 shows in 14 days. Those 11 shows produced no fewer than 8 essential jams. By “essential,” I mean that someday your roommate at the seniors home is going to doze off listening to you gush about them for the millionth time. Two of these jams were “Tweezer” (Hampton and Hartford), and two of them were “Carini” (Hampton and AC). Of the remaining four, three of them deserve mention in any conversation about all-time versions: the Hartford “Golden Age,” the Reading “Disease,” and the AC “Twist.” Rounding out the list is a behemoth in its own right: the Worcester “Drowned.”

Not too shabby -- and that’s barely the half of it.

On Halloween, the band spent its always-anticipated second set redefining itself. Before our eyes, they restarted their creative engine, which thrummed to life with 12 brand new songs -- at least five of which (by my own count) are keepers, and at least two of which are instant classics. Setting aside questions of tradition, expectations and timing, there is no getting around the significance of this gambit: Phish is in it for the long haul now, and they are not content to grow old as a nostalgia act. They intend to take chances, they intend to evolve, and we’re all invited along. Oh, and did I mention the band just turned 30?

So, yeah, an achievement like this tour deserves catharsis, summation, and punctuation. Will we get it?

The “Wilson” opener grabs the crowd by its tender parts and gives them a nice firm tug. The “band view” shots on the webcast show an audience in ecstasy, ready to leave their all in Boardwalk Hall. Alas, from there, the energy in the first set takes a long, arcing swan dive. The band delivers a focused but detached “Rift,” and then a laconic “Ocelot” that begins with the band working with at least two if not three different understandings of where “the one” is. By this point, the band is noticeably frustrated, and the next three tunes -- “Water in the Sky,” “Sample in a Jar” and “Funky Bitch” -- do little to reverse the trend. “Sample” in particular is bruised and disoriented, and Trey throws up his hands with a few bars left, lost in a jumble of frets, glad for its merciful end.

The patient begins to recuperate with “46 Days,” a tune the band could play in its sleep but which rarely fails to deliver. The crowd responds loudly to the recovery here, which may set the table for the treat that comes next: easily the most unusual and creative “Theme From the Bottom” ever played. It starts out like any other “Theme,” including a brief stumble during the bridge. But in lieu of the expected outro, Trey leads the band into a another rhythmic vamp on “Theme from Shaft,” sending backfields into frenzied motion. As in last night’s “Makisupa,” Trey asks Fish a series of questions designed to produce the answer “bush” (or “Bush,” or “Busch”), and then directs the band back into the denouement of “Theme.”

For those of you scoring at home, that’s “Theme -> Theme -> Theme.” You’re welcome.

The Green Mountain State reggae of “Yarmouth Road” follows, then a standard-issue “Mike’s Groove” that does its level best to end this uneven first frame on a high note. But no matter. This tour has seen at least four relentless, top notch second sets that followed first set headscratchers, so there’s little cause for setbreak despair.

A “Tears of a Clown” tease from Mike announces “Down With Disease,” perhaps the band’s most stalwart second set opener. The early moments of the jam find Chris Kuroda throwing horizontal beams across the structure of the stage, suggesting a factory floating in orbit. The improv that evolves from here is all bliss and primary colors, and introduces a jaunty persona to the set that will abide throughout. While this “Disease” might be a dim reflection of the monster from Reading, it stands tall on its own. The bar is just that high now.

A jazzy and up-tempo “Piper” follows, with Trey inviting fans to rip off their “Woo-X” patches and Woo to their hearts’ content. 2013 has proven light on marquee versions of “Piper,” as it seems to serve these days as an interstitial offering rather than a standalone jam vehicle. Here’s another “Piper” that is no must-hear, necessarily, but performs its prescribed role very well.

“Roggae” is as lovely as always; I love the view from the pinnacle of this song over the past few years. Gooseflesh, every time. “Waves” delivers the third of three consecutive 7-minute songs, but primes the pump for yet another huge “Tweezer.”

Let’s be blunt: 2013 is officially The Year Of The “Tweezer.” In any other year, this Atlantic City “Tweezer” would stop the presses. Things get interesting early, during the pre-Ebeneezer funk breakdown, with Page trading pornographic licks with Mike from across the stage. Trey teases Neal Hefti’s theme to “The Odd Couple” as the band begins to assemble a keyboard-centric passage of intensely danceable cow funk, layer upon layer. Like so many grooves this fall, this one takes on a Talking Heads flavor, and the players and fans are content to luxuriate in the velour thickness of it all for quite a while. Finally, Fish deconstructs the groove and reassembles it as Trey reintroduces the “Tweezer” head riff. A ritardando ending brings closure to a version that might not measure up to the year’s daunting contenders, but most certainly merits your undivided attention.

It’s Saturday night. These days, that generally implies a 4th quarter series of crowd-pleasing but fungible blues rock originals, any of which can serve as a set-closer. Tonight, that lineup consists of “Julius,” “Backwards Down the Number Line” and “Character Zero.” I like all of these songs, and they are all well played, save for an awkwardly botched intro to “Number Line.” Page gets a B-3 solo in “Julius,” which is nice, I guess. I don’t have much else to say about this run of tunes, but feel free to expound in the comments.

As Phish takes its well-deserved bows, I call a “Sleeping Monkey” encore. It’s nice to get one right now and then. This sloppy “Monkey” yields the floor to an expected and rambunctious “Tweeprise,” which closes the books on this undeniably monumental Fall Tour.

Regardless of your take on tonight (and I think the second set was thrilling in long stretches, for the record), there is ample cause for joy, not only for What Just Happened but for What Lies Ahead. My heart is full of gratitude for these four musicians, for their dedication to playing music (and now composing music once again) as an ensemble, and for the boundless respect and generosity they show their audience. Huge respect as well to Chris, to Garry, and to the crew and home office for all the heavy lifting.

See you in MSG in just 55 days!

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Comments

, comment by Ocelot256
Ocelot256 After this tour, it is great the next shows are only 55 days away!
, comment by 757phan
757phan Really well written.

In it for the long haul....all smiles :-)
, comment by phishatmsg
phishatmsg good words Chris
, comment by HotPale
HotPale here here 55(5) days indeed!
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Couldn't agree more on the review. Theme is particularly entertaining.
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 Very well done, @bertoletdown. I couldn't have said it better (although I'll probably be gushing just as much about the AC Twist as I slip off into senescence...)
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ You forgot the Reading Twenty Years Later. It's just as essential as the other 8, imo.
, comment by PhishPhox
PhishPhox Interesting to note that Tweezer kicked off 2013 at MSG last year and this has been the year of Tweezer!

Love you phish
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @Renaissance said:
You forgot the Reading Twenty Years Later. It's just as essential as the other 8, imo.
You could definitely make that argument. It's obviously the best version ever played.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Deliciously gooey writeup.

Agree with every bit of it. Thanks
, comment by mahimahi
mahimahi Wow, what a show; one for the record books. We should all be thankful for the three days of Halloween, wow, woo.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten I kind of think you're selling this Tweezer a little short. Well maybe not, you do praise it quite highly...but I think it was a very unique version for this year. More like a late 90s Tweezer. Also thought disease was top notch. The AC run might be my favorite of the whole tour.
, comment by BradMaryland
BradMaryland Great weekend. Saw my first Meatstick. Strange dance felt like I was at a wedding.
, comment by HarborSeal
HarborSeal a) YES on the Reading 20 Years Later as "essential." Better than the Worcester Drowned, imo, and obviously much more of a standout given the history of the song. (Worcester Drowned is probably in the top 10 versions Phish has played, but only probably. Drowned has some serious history.)

b) You going to tell us what you loved from Wingsuit?
, comment by plICCULUS
plICCULUS Ya had to have that, ya Wombat, had that!!
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 absolutely the twenty years later is a must for the list of essential jams put down from this run. I would like to see some1 rank the best jams from this tour.. I may have to go AC Carini for the top spot
, comment by rhoadsbot
rhoadsbot Did anyone hear the Reading Reba? Yikes!
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ @rhoadsbot said:
Did anyone hear the Reading Reba? Yikes!
It was perfect...perfect, but too short to make the list.
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ ^^
That said, it's a sublime and gorgeous Reba...with the whistles too!
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @HarborSeal said:
a) YES on the Reading 20 Years Later as "essential." Better than the Worcester Drowned, imo, and obviously much more of a standout given the history of the song. (Worcester Drowned is probably in the top 10 versions Phish has played, but only probably. Drowned has some serious history.)

b) You going to tell us what you loved from Wingsuit?
I've listened to the 20YL a bunch, and I am conflicted.

On one hand, it absolutely deserves to be heard, because it is an example of a song breaking free of its form for the first time, in an organic way that everyone but the band seemed to know was possible. Contrast that with the Theme, which has never really "gone type 2" but which nobody could have ever expected would careen into some funk workout. It's a truly awesome moment for Phish, and 20YL, and the stock value of the Joy album. I don't discount it at all.

On the other hand, if you take that jam and tack it on to the end of a Disease, or Twist, or Ghost, then I don't think anybody talks about it that much if at all.

Which to me means that it earns the high honor of being the best version of a really good song, and that's no small potatoes. I am always glad to hear that song and now even more excited for the next one.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown Oh, sorry. My favorite tunes from Wingsuit are Wingsuit, Fuego, Wombat, 555, and Monica. The two I think are instant classics are Fuego and Wombat. I'm fucking PUMPED to hear them both again.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @phunky58 said:
absolutely the twenty years later is a must for the list of essential jams put down from this run. I would like to see some1 rank the best jams from this tour.. I may have to go AC Carini for the top spot
Best jams of tour is the topic for this week's Phishing Poll. Tune in Thursday and cast your vote!
, comment by ColForbin
ColForbin Fantastic recap to the show and the tour, @bertoletdown. This fall was really an embarrassment of riches. I hope they continue to play fall tours, because IMO it keeps their level of communication and jam intuition high and portends a great NYE run.
, comment by dte421
dte421 The Jibboo from AC2 is an all time version IMO and an "essential".
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ @bertoletdown said:
@phunky58 said:
absolutely the twenty years later is a must for the list of essential jams put down from this run. I would like to see some1 rank the best jams from this tour.. I may have to go AC Carini for the top spot
Best jams of tour is the topic for this week's Phishing Poll. Tune in Thursday and cast your vote!
Now we're talking....
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown Well, I lied. But you'll get that topic a week from Thursday.

This Thursday is "best of Wingsuit."
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ @bertoletdown said:
Well, I lied. But you'll get that topic a week from Thursday.

This Thursday is "best of Wingsuit."
Good choice.
, comment by moonfacebrb
moonfacebrb Great job @bertoletdown . I agree on the jams chosen. Would love to see you stack up the shows this tour in the near future as well. Waiting All Night & Devotion to a Dream are fun too (maybe not in the live setting). Also gotta love the Hartford 2001. That's the funktastic version I've been waiting for!
, comment by RINSKYDINKS
RINSKYDINKS they totally opened with that WILSON for me!!! i was the rebel lizard with the feather mohawk and the "fuck wilson" with Anarchy symbol.....i wore it again sat nite and was up real close to the stage. A girl can dream. Dreams do come true!!!. Hey did anybody else see the penny game invasion of planet wombat?!?!?!?! it blew my mind!!! cuddly but muscular!!! i had a great time!!!!!
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @moonfacebrb said:
Great job @bertoletdown . I agree on the jams chosen. Would love to see you stack up the shows this tour in the near future as well. Waiting All Night & Devotion to a Dream are fun too (maybe not in the live setting). Also gotta love the Hartford 2001. That's the funktastic version I've been waiting for!
The Hartford 2001 is sick, and really imo deserves a spot on this list more than the 20YL.
, comment by MOstGhoSt
MOstGhoSt ?
, comment by MOstGhoSt
MOstGhoSt "The Hartford 2001 is sick, and really imo deserves a spot on this list more than the 20YL."

? - I had a late night dyslexic moment and wondered how phish could have played Hartford in 2001 then realized ohh.. Hartford 2001-2013.

I enjoyed this review a lot. the music is so on track... how about a New Years run.........

"" easily the most unusual and creative “Theme From the Bottom” ever played. It starts out like any other “Theme,” including a brief stumble during the bridge. But in lieu of the expected outro, Trey leads the band into a another rhythmic vamp on “Theme from Shaft,” sending backfields into frenzied motion. As in last night’s “Makisupa,” Trey asks Fish a series of questions designed to produce the answer “bush” (or “Bush,” or “Busch”), and then directs the band back into the denouement of “Theme.”. ""

-don't you just love it when this happens? that moment was one of my favorites at this show.
, comment by RoundTheRoom
RoundTheRoom Great review.

Agreed on your top jams from the tour, including your sentiment on 20YL. Best version ever, and so happy to hear them give the song the treatment - but it's nothing too groundbreaking if it comes out of a regularly-jammed tune. It's really good, though. Phish had an excellent tour, IMO one of the three best (Summer 2012, Fall 2010) in 3.0.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Am I wrong to say the 7/21/97, 6/16/00, 9/17/00 and 2/25/03 Themes might have something to say about this one easily being the most creative?

Also.. Am I thinking of the wrong song from Shaft? It really doesn't sound anything like the song I think of when I think Shadt Theme, seems more like a Phish jam.

I'm usually dying to claim that X 3.0 jam crushes Y-Z jams from earlier days, but I think it's right around the same level of the Philly And Osaka Themes, nowhere near as weird as VA Beach, just about as funky as the MPP Outro (which I guess could/should be wholly attributed as a Dog log intro jam but is one of my favorite minutes of Phish ever)

Poor 6/7/95 Boise version that sounds like a futuristic dog fight and nails the song In every imaginable way.. You're still in my top 5, Boise!

Didn't find the 20 Years later jam as compelling as the shorter jams on the song from Camden and Augusta 2010 (Fuck Your Face> Mikes> Fuck Your face> Mikes> Light-> Twenty years Later-> FEFY is perfection and all)

Buuuuuut I kinda feel like the only person who thinks that this tour was in line with the last bunch of tours instead of blowing them away. Thought it was comfortably below either of 2012s legs until Ghost> Carini fiiiiiinally nudged it up onto that shelf.

Still.. I think 2012 and 2013 are tied and 2011 is almost as good as either. Less consistent, but the improv is better.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown LOL -- maybe "unusual" would have been a better word than "creative?"

Yeah, let's run with that.

As to the Shaft thing, you're right -- it's not dead center, but it was close enough (accidentally if I had to guess) to prompt the lyrical quote the night before. I'm honestly not sure how to note it differently, if at all.
, comment by ozwaldo
ozwaldo Make no mistake, 1995 was the year of Tweezer. This year was good but even the Camden 09 and the Gorge 09 versions were better to my ears. 11-17-97 is my favorite, fyi.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown With all due respect, the Gorge '09 Tweezer is a steaming pile next to the Hampton and AC versions.
, comment by gnosticaspirant
gnosticaspirant Oh, and did I mention the band just turned 30?

Band turns 30 on 12/2/13. They figured that out sometime in late '98/early '99.
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